At some point in our lives, nearly every one of us will experience back pain on some level. For some people, the pain may be short-lived, and as a result of bending, twisting or lifting incorrectly. But for the majority of back pain sufferers, the pain is chronic, excruciating and can interfere with a person’s quality of life. Did you know that back pain happens to be the biggest of all physical complaints? But, back pain is not a disease; it is a symptom of an underlying condition, and until the root of the problem has been ascertained and addressed, the back pain will persist.
What Causes Back Pain?
Injury is the most common source of back pain. Sometimes a simple movement such as lifting an object with our back and not our legs, can have us on the floor writhing in pain! Some injuries have more serious etiologies, such as trauma, car accident, or slip and fall.
Back pain can also be a symptom of such diseases and/or conditions as appendicitis, bladder and pelvic infections, kidney disease and diseases of the female reproductive system.
Nerve impingement is the compression of a nerve or a group of nerves, and depending on the location of this impingement, the pain could potentially affect any part of the spinal column. Disc herniation is one of the main causes of nerve impingement, and the pain can literally take your breath away. Other symptoms of impingement include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which pain is the primary complaint, and back pain associated with this illness is quite common.
Cauda equina syndrome is a condition in which the disc material expands into the spinal canal and compresses the nerves. In this case, the pain can also be accompanied by loss of sensation, as well as bowel and/or bladder dysfunction (incontinence). A patient experiencing these symptoms must seek immediate medical attention and possible surgical intervention in order to avoid permanent damage to the bladder and bowel.
If your back pain occurs in the form of muscle strain or minor injury, then rest is the most effective means of alleviation. However, bed rest for 72 hours may prove more harmful than beneficial. In order to receive the greatest amount of relief from your back pain, lie down on the floor with pillows under you knees, hips and knees bent, and your feet resting on a chair. This position will take most of the weight off your back. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees while lying on one side may also help because it takes the strain off of hips and knees. Cold application working in tandem with an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may also help to reduce pain and inflammation.
It may seem like I am trying to torture you by suggesting this, but certain forms of exercise may actually help to reduce or even prevent back pain. The most beneficial types of exercise to engage in when suffering with back pain include the following:
Aerobic Exercise : Aerobic exercise helps to strengthen the heart and other muscles in the body. This form of exercise will help you to maintain health and speed up the recovery process.
Strengthening Exercise: Choose exercises in this category that specifically target the back, stomach and leg muscles.
Stretching Exercises: In order to keep muscles from injury, they must be supple and flexible. Once muscles are in this state, they become less prone to injury.
Certain exercises should be avoided during exacerbation of back pain. These include the following:
- Straight leg sit-ups
- Bent leg sit-ups
- Leg lifts
- Lifting heavy objects above the waist
- Toe touches
Because the first words out of your mouth each day should be “Good Morning” and not “Ouch” it is vital to implement a regular stretching and strengthening regime that will keep your muscles strong, and put you in a better position of avoiding injury onset and/or exacerbation.